By: Chris Cook

There were troubling scenes at Kelso yesterday when a syringe, described as “an oral dosing syringe”, was found in one of the boxes in the racecourse stables. The trainer Keith Dalgleish tells me this morning that a member of his stable staff stepped on the syringe as she walked her horse into her allotted box before racing yesterday.

She alerted an official, the trainer says, and the syringe was gathered up and sent away for analysis to see whether it had been used and if so what had been in it. A brief note about the incident appeared on the BHA’s stewards page last night. The wording is neutral, as is typical of stewards’ notes, but the effect is to attract attention to Dalgleish’s involvement, which hardly seems fair in view of his description of events:

An enquiry was held following a report from the Veterinary Officer that an oral dosing syringe was found in stable 30. The Clerk of the Course, the Veterinary Officer, and an employee of Keith Dalgleish were interviewed. Having heard their evidence, the Stewards ordered that the syringe be sent for analysis and a report be sent to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration.

Understandably, some folk on the Betfair forum have jumped to the conclusion that Dalgleish’s operation must be under suspicion. Dalgleish admitted to being “annoyed” about it and perhaps the wording will now be clarified. I’ve asked the BHA for their take on the incident and will post any response on here when I get it.

UPDATE (11.20am): The BHA have indeed amended their stewards’ note, so that the first line now says:

An enquiry was held following a report from the Veterinary Officer that an employee of Keith Dalgleish had found an oral dosing syringe in the bedding of stable 30, and handed it in.

The BHA have also sent me this statement: “Oral dosing syringes (i.e. those to which you are not able to affix a needle) are permitted in racecourse stables on permission of the veterinary officer for administration of glycerine (or water, for which a bulb syringe would usually be used). Whilst their presence is therefore not uncommon, in this instance due to the nature of discovery the BHA quite correctly is considering the matter to ensure there are no wider concerns.”

Which is all fair enough, except for that bit about “quite correctly”, which shows the BHA’s love for marking its own homework.

And so we turn to today’s racing.

Like a whale that repeatedly beaches itself, I am swimming back towards Vino Griego (4.05) for Sandown’s staying handicap chase. It seems I’m not the only one, as he’s a general 8-1 from last night’s opening 16-1, though I think there might be a bit of 10-1 left.

I fancied him for this course and distance early last month, when he unseated at the first. I went in again a couple of weeks ago and he ran a stormer, leading over the second-last before weakening quickly.

Today, the visor he always used to wear is back on for the first time in three years. His yard has been on a decent run. Is the return of the visor a last act of desperation or a sign that he is felt to be ready to win if everything falls right? I shall take my chances at the available odds. His rating has dropped again and he’s now 35lb below his peak mark.

Another shortener is Midnight Monty (3.00), now 7-2 for the Royal Artillery Gold Cup. This is not the most attractive race for betting purposes, thanks to the variable quality of the riding, but my pick has Major Harry Wallace aboard, who has won the race twice in the last eight years.

I think it may also be significant that Jamie Snowden, who trains Midnight Monty, won this race four times as a jockey. I think we can hope that this is not some last-minute, opportunistic, ‘Find a race on Friday because the owner’s going’, but rather a long-term plan with a chance of coming off.

Midnight Monty finished strongly into second on his prep-run last month, his first outing for Snowden. He’s unexposed compared to most of his rivals.